Water and sanitation utilities commonly experience vandalism and theft of their
property. These acts of vandalism are widespread in both urban and rural settings and take a number of forms: they include water theft leading directly to a loss of revenue for the utility, and the vandalism and theft of valuable metal pipes, fittings and manhole covers leading to an increase in the utility’s maintenance costs. The extent of vandalism and theft experienced in a project or defined area can have a direct and significant impact on the performance of a utility, and where the service is negatively affected, this will ultimately impact on the well-being of customers. Despite anecdotal evidence of the prevalence of this problem research into the subject remains very limited, with a lack of documentation on interventions to reduce vandalism or the extent to which a reduction in vandalism can lead to improved water and sanitation services.
To explore strategies for combating this issue, WSUP has recently carried out a case study documenting experience in the Copperbelt region of Zambia, where Nkana Water and Sewerage Company (NWSC) are implementing a three-pronged, integrated approach to vandalism reduction.